Is Your Brand Sexy and Aspirational or Just Syrup + Water?

We watched a film called ‘Syrup’ recently. It wasn’t the most well-known or well-received film in Hollywood, but it was about Marketing, and it had Amber Heard in it (swoon), so we were sold.


The film follows the story of a young business man as he tries to make it in the cut throat world of Soft Drinks, where image is everything. The story goes that the product (an energy drink) is just Syrup + Water, it literally could taste of anything, and the real way to convince people to buy is through the brand, the image and the aspiration. Not the taste.

Think about cars for example, why do people spend hundreds of thousands of pounds to buy one car over the other? They both do the same job. It’s because it is making statement. Everything you buy is a representation of who you are to others. It’s your identity. How else can you define yourself other than with what you buy? Now that is important because no one will buy from you if it doesn’t ‘fit’ with their personal brand and image of themselves. We will buy a certain brand because it says to other people who we are. By buying this brand then I can say look, this is who I am, this is the type of person I am.

When you look at perfume/aftershave adverts, that’s why they always have aspirational scenes and sexy people in them. You want to be those people, you want to have that same sex appeal. If you buy that product you are not ashamed of having it, in fact you will flaunt it because you have connected with that image, that’s who you are.

You know that buying that perfume/aftershave won’t really turn you into that sexy person on the advert, but yet you kind of do. You are buying into your dreams and aspirations and the adverts are just giving you a product for you to buy to make yourself feel good and be one step closer to becoming that person you want to be. It’s superficial yes but that’s the world we live in and that’s marketing!

It got us thinking.

It is quite easy to apply this theory to bigger businesses, but we think the same can be said of small businesses too. Every one of us is selling a solution, a dream, an image. So can people aspire to buy your product? They should be able to.

Oftentimes in small business, our products are very similar to our competition, and to follow the metaphor we are just selling syrup + water. However the way we present our products can very well be the deciding factor of whether we get the sale.

Even in the small business world, people don’t necessarily buy the product, they buy the image of what they think their life will be like after the sale. So instead of communicating the features and benefits of your product all the time. Communicate a way of life, and how people will ‘feel’ after buying your product. What you buy forms a part of you and says who you are to the outside world. If someone bought your product/service right now, looking at your branding, what would that say about them? Is that something to aspire to? If not, there is an issue.

This is almost essential if you are selling luxury goods, as you need to break through the “its not that essential to me” issue, but even if you are selling necessary purchases (web design, training, accountancy, legal), if your offering is the only one in the market, not only selling a service, but an ASPIRATIONAL FEELING, then you will automatically stand out, and make people not just need but WANT your service.

So how do you achieve this?
We aren’t saying fool or trick people, but never fail to neglect your brand image no matter how big or small your business is, as like in the film image can be everything.

ACTION: Decide what image you want to represent, and invent an ‘aspirational mascot.’ You need to have clear in your head what you mascot looks like, what they dress like, how much money they have, are they with a hot girl/guy, how they feel and how you have helped them.

ACTION: Photography is key. You need to either have a photographer take some images for you, or buy some images that represent your aspirational mascot.

ACTION: Ditch the Features and Benefits talk all the time, and instead show people what your customers look and feel like after using your services. If you can use real people, even better and ensure your testimonials fall in line with this aspirational image.

ACTION: Don’t be underwhelming. A ‘smiling’ customer is not an aspirational image. Don’t be afraid to make it awesome.